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Sunday, July 29, 2012

God is Good

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting (Psa 107:1).
It's a simple little prayer that so many little children have learned. "God is great, God is good. Let us thank Him for our food." Okay, so "good" and "food" don't really rhyme. But the idea is sound. God is good.

"Good" is generally a relative term depending on a standard. A good meal is not the same as a good dog, and a good dog is not the same as a good man. The standard used determines "good". In the case of God, however, this is not the case. Jesus said, "No one is good except God alone" (Luke 18:19) because we all have standards to meet, but God is the standard. His character defines the standard by which "good" is measured ... and we all fall short (Rom 3:12, 23).

When it comes to God and "good", in fact, "good" appears to be the whole of His character. When Moses asked God, "I pray You, show me Your glory!" God answered "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you" (Exo 33:18-19). God's glory and His goodness appear to be synonymous. Good, then, is defined by God and resides in God. That's why David said, "You are my Lord; I have no good besides You" (Psa 16:2). That's why James wrote, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow" (James 1:17). That's why your good works bring glory to God (Matt 5:16).

God, then, defines good. He defines what is good behavior. He defines what are good circumstances. He defines what are good outcomes. All that is genuinely good is defined in who God is. Conversely, as the definition of "good", all that He is and does is good. That's how we can be quite certain that "God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose" (Rom 8:28). Good is not defined, then, as "pleasant circumstances", "health and wealth", happiness, or that promotion you wanted. God defines good.

As a result, we can be confident that what God does is good and that He works all things together for good. We can be sure that both suffering and pleasure come from the hands of a good God for our good and His glory and nothing can separate us from the love of God. His goodness gives us a resting place, a foundation.

God is good. God is good all the time.


David said...

I wonder if the etymology of "good" finds its roots in "God".

Stan said...

I've looked into it, and it really looks like they were originally the same word, but I can't actually find any confirmation that they were.